The Best Minimalist Backpacks for the Light Traveler [2021 Guide]
For people who love to travel, hike or spend days walking in the park, it can be difficult to find a bag to carry all their essential items. You don’t want a bulky bag that’s heavy or one that doesn’t complement your outdoor outfits.
So how do you find a backpack that’s both stylish and functional?
That’s what you can find out in the reviews we’ve put together for you. First, we’ll discuss our methodology of how we conducted our research. Keep reading to find out what type of minimalist backpacks you can get and then you can delve into our top 15 reviews to find one you’ll love.
Featured Minimalist Backpacks of 2021
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Guide for Purchasing a Minimalist-Style Backpack
Backpacks have always been a popular means of carrying essential items when traveling or hiking. But it was difficult to find a streamlined and lightweight design with organized compartments to fit the items that you needed.
Nowadays there are plenty of minimalistic backpacks for you to pick from. But not all of them are the same. You’ll find different sizes, designs, colors, and more. So how do you know which one to pick? A good place to start is understanding different categories. Let’s take a look at the different types of minimalistic backpacks so you can decide which one suits your preference.
Determine the Purpose of Your Backpack
There are backpacks designed specifically for outdoor activities. If you want a minimalistic backpack for hiking you may want to look at one that comes with side pockets to hold bottles. Additionally, hiking backpacks come with extra features such as straps to carry picnic blankets or compartments for sleeping bags. If you’re using it for cycling you want the bag to fit securely on your back and it must be lightweight. Other backpacks are made with waterproof materials for boat rides and waterfall trekking.
So what will you need your minimalistic backpack for?
Choose Your Design
Minimalistic backpacksr come in different shapes and designs. The one you pick can either make packing difficult or effortless. Your minimalistic backpack should offer you excellent organization features so you don’t have to struggle packing it.
Most minimalistic backpacks come with plenty of pockets and compartments but they’re structured in such a way that you don’t see them protruding. You can access these compartments easily and they’re designed for different purposes.
Some backpacks come with incredible features such as airflow panels so that your back doesn’t get sweaty when you’re walking with the bag. You may even find minimalistic backpacks with extra straps to fit securely around your waist, for more comfortable carrying.
Pick a design that is functional so that it aligns with its intended purpose.
Selecting and Reviewing Our Products: Methodology
We want to help you find the best minimalist backpack on the market. So we’ve done extensive research to find you durable, well-designed backpacks ideal for hiking, cycling, and camping. These backpacks don’t have bulky constructions and they’re lightweight so they’re ideal for the light traveler.
Additionally, there are many aspects of a minimalistic backpack that we’ve considered such as the fabrics and materials it’s made from. Ideally, you want a backpack that’s waterproof so that your items don’t get wet when you get caught in the rain. The fabric should be able to withstand the elements too and it must be soft so it doesn’t chafe your skin when you walk.
Durability is an important feature, especially for zippers, clips, and Velcro fasteners. You want a backpack that’s going to last so you want zippers that won’t rust, clips that won’t crack, and Velcro that won’t lose its grip.
Lastly, adjustable straps are also an important feature because you want the backpack to stay securely on your shoulders while also feeling comfortable to carry. Make sure the minimalistic backpack you pick comes with straps that you can customize.
To ensure that you get the right information when looking at our reviews, we’ve covered all the above features and specifications. That way you can do a comparison of which minimalistic backpacks are the best.
15 Top Rated Minimalist Backpacks - Best of 2021
Kelty Women’s Redwing 40 Backpack
This backpack from Kelty is ideal for women who are looking for a lightweight bag for hiking because this one only weighs 2lbs. It has a ventilating back panel to prevent your back from sweating when you walk. The straps are padded to provide comfortable carrying over your shoulders.
Hikers love it because it comes with a water bottle pocket that’s easy to access. You’ll find that there are large side compression straps to keep all your items secure.
There’s a front pocket where you can keep all your small items such as a compass, GPS, maps, keys, and more. You’ll also love the stunning aqua blue color of the fabric. The Kelty minimalistic backpack is a multipurpose bag so you can use it for everything from storing your laptop to climbing mountains.
WITZMAN Men Travel Backpack
Are you looking for a duffle bag and a backpack in one? The WITZMAN men’s travel backpack has that exact design. This backpack is minimalistic but with multiple carrying options and handles. There are many compartments for you to store your items in, such as two front zipper pockets, a side panel, and the main pocket where you can store your laptop.
You get smaller pockets inside the backpack for pens, keys, or pocket knives. On the back, there is another pocket to store your backpack-style straps when you’re not using them. This backpack is extremely durable because it’s made with pure cotton canvas and PU leather.
It’s a stylish minimalistic backpack that comes in classic chocolate brown hues that won’t show dirt easily. It’s perfect for work, gym, hiking, or plane and train travels.
The Nomatic backpack has the ultimate minimalistic design. There are no protruding or bulky features. It’s a purely functional backpack that comes with enough compartments to store what you need. What’s more, it’s lightweight, durable, and waterproof.
If you’re looking for additional space you can expand the size of this backpack using the zipper at the bottom. You can carry this bag as a briefcase or a backpack because it has multiple straps and carrying options.
The full parameter zipper gives you access to all sides of this backpack so you can pack it easily. Inside the bag, there are 20 pockets for small to large items. Additionally, there are elastic Mesh pockets for soft items and hard-cased pockets for breakable accessories such as sunglasses.
The Friendly Swede City Backpack
This minimalistic backpack is made with a 500D PVC tarpaulin that’s 100% waterproof. It’s the ideal backpack for any outdoor activity such as cycling, mountain climbing, hiking, and camping. The 13″ shoulder straps are adjustable so you can customize their fit so they’ll stay securely on your shoulders.
The Friendly Swede City backpack is lightweight so it won’t weigh you down during your outdoor adventures. It’s also a multipurpose bag because you can fit a 13″ laptop inside. There’s a roll-down sealing system that’s easy to open and allows you to pack the bag without contending with flaps.
There are side zips that allow you to store smaller accessories and essentials such as lotions, keys, sunglasses, and more. The bright white color of the bag makes it visible in low light conditions and it’s the perfect style for outdoor events.
Hershel Little America Backpack
With the Hershel Little America backpack, you get a large 17L capacity that can fit many small to large items such as books, electronics, hiking gear, and more. The durable polyester and nylon fabric will keep all your items secure.
There’s a top handle that allows you to carry the bag low. The two back straps allow you to secure the bag on your back so your hands are free to hold bike handles or an umbrella. The padded shoulder straps are comfortable and soft so it doesn’t chafe your skin.
What’s more, the weight of the bag is equally distributed so that it doesn’t sag at the bottom. Some straps secure the front flap of the bag to prevent items from falling out. The large flap allows you to pack your bag easily, especially when you have large items to store such as laptops.
Osprey Tempest 9 – Women’s Hiking Backpack
For hiking, it’s important to pick a minimalistic backpack that provides extra security. The Osprey Tempest 9 hiking bag has two shoulder straps with a small harness that clips in the front of your chest to prevent the bag from slipping.
There’s a bungee cord front panel that allows you to store jackets or light raincoats in case it starts raining on your hike. There are side panels for your water bottle so you can keep hydrated on your long walks.
On the side of the bag, there are attachments where you can secure your trekking poles. If you’re an avid cycler you’ll appreciate the lid lock helmet attachment that allows you to store your bike helmet easily.
In the main compartment you can store snacks or other accessories you’ll need on your hikes such as maps, bird books, or pocket knives. There’s ample space inside to store lotions, sunglasses keys, and other items you want to access quickly.
High Sierra Loop Backpack
This minimalistic backpack from High Sierra Loop won’t topple over when you put it down. This is because it has a flat bottom that allows the bag to stay upright when you place it on the floor. The polyester bag weighs 1.4lbs which makes it light enough for almost any outdoor activity.
There are multiple compartments inside the bag that allow you to store essential items and accessories. Inside the bag, there’s a sleeve to secure your tablet. The compression straps are adjustable for a customized fit and to ensure the bag doesn’t slip off your shoulders.
On the side of the bag, you’ll find a clip that allows you to hook your bottle, a small light, or pocketknife. There is a suspension system that gives you some relief when carrying heavy loads. Also, use the six exterior compartments for snacks and small items such as pens or sunglasses that you want to reach easily.
If you don’t like backpacks with multicolored fabrics then you’ll love the Vorspack. This minimalistic carry bag is made with black polyester fabric that’s water-resistant. What’s more, it has a streamlined design with no protruding straps or pockets.
Speaking of pockets, this backpack has one front pocket, two side pouches for small accessories or water bottles, and one padded slot for tablets or laptops. The back panel and straps of the bag are padded for extra comfort for long-distance hikes.
If you want to buy this bag in a different color there are eight other options for you to pick from. This bag is designed for hiking, cycling, camping, and waterfall trekking.
Samsonite Classic Leather Backpack
The Samsonite Classic has a sophisticated design suitable for outdoor events such as golfing, cycling, or festivals. It’s made with durable leather fabric so it’s able to withstand any harsh outdoor conditions.
For the main compartment, there’s a curved zipper that allows you to open the bag wider to fit large items inside such as books or a laptop. There’s a front compartment that allows you to store, chapstick, keys, or penknives. There are multiple compartments inside to store jackets, SmartPhones, and maps.
The soft straps are adjustable so you can secure the backpack for comfort during long-distance walks. This bag doesn’t sag at the bottom so it’s ideal for carrying heavy loads up mountains or on a bicycle.
Fjallraven Kranken Classic Backpack
Fjallraven is an established brand that’s been making backpacks and other outdoor gear since the 1960s. With the Kranken backpack, you can walk through wind, rain, and snow and it will protect all your belongings.
There isn’t much to look at in terms of style because this minimalistic backpack is designed for functionality. It has a two-way zipper that allows you to open the bag wider so you can fit larger items inside. There’s a front pocket to keep your mobile phone, earphones, and sunglasses inside.
The bag is made with a vinylon fabric that’s water and stain-resistant. Lastly, there are two top handles so you can carry the bag with one hand. Or, use the adjustable straps to carry the backpack on your shoulders.
936Plus Casual Backpack
This backpack is another minimalistic bag that doesn’t have bulky corners, pockets or sleeves. The streamlined design makes it easier to carry during hikes or cycle rides. It’s made with water-resistant polyester fabric that’s two-toned.
The bottom of the bag is flat so it stays upright when you put it on the floor. There are double zippers that allow you to open the bag wide to fit through larger-sized items inside such as books or jackets.
Inside there are nine organized pockets for you to store smaller items so you can find them easily.
For a customized fit, adjust the back straps so the bag doesn’t slip off your shoulders when you walk. The straps are padded so they fit comfortably over your shoulders. This backpack can be used in all seasons so it’s ideal for any outdoor adventure, come rain or shine.
Hershel Nova Backpack
If you want a compact lightweight bag for walks in the park then you’ll want the Hershel Nova minimalistic backpack. It’s made with a soft fabric on the outside with polyethylene foam lining the inside.
The shoulder straps are slim so they don’t cut into your neck and there’s a top handle if you want to carry the bag in your hand. There’s a two-way zip so you can open the bag on either side. Use the zipped pocket in front to keep your keys, sunglass, lotions, and chapstick secure and close by.
Additionally, there is a side pocket where you can store your water bottle, snacks, or other small essential items. You’ll be happy to know that this backpack comes in many colors and designs for you to pick from.
Champion Men’s Manuscript Backpack
This minimalistic backpack has a large capacity but it’s lightweight and easy to carry. It has a large internal compartment to fit tablets, maps, laptops, books, and more. There are two extra pockets inside to keep money or cellphones inside.
The front external zipper pocket allows you to keep essential items that you’d like to have quick access to such as a house or car keys. On the Champion Men’s Manuscript bag there are two padded shoulder straps that you can easily adjust.
There’s no mention of this backpack being water-resistant so you may not want to go hiking with it if it’s raining outside. But it’s a sturdy, durable bag suitable for cycling, mountain biking, and outdoor festivals.
Tom Clovers Canvas Backpack
The Tom Clover Canvas backpack has a classical compact design that’s both stylish and practical. Inside the main compartment, you’ll find several other pockets to store books, cellphones, penknives, and small torches.
On both sides of the bag, you’ll find pockets to put water bottles or smaller items such as sunglasses or bottles of lotion. There’s a front pocket where you can keep items you want quick access to such as money, keys, or earphones.
This backpack has two padded, adjustable straps that are comfortable. The bag is ideal for camping trips, hikes, picnics, and boat rides.
Under Armour Adult 4.0 Backpack
This backpack has an oval shape as opposed to a square one. As a result, it may not stand upright when you place it on the ground. It’s very useful though thanks to its two compartments. The first one is for storing smaller items and the second one is ideal for larger ones such as laptops or camping gear.
Additionally, there are side pockets to store your water bottle or other essential items such as sunblock or your sunglasses.
The backpack is made with durable 84% polyester and 16% water-resistant elastane fabric. This means the backpack will protect your electronics, books, and other sensitive items from the rain. You could even go waterfall trekking with this backpack.
Is Material and Fabric Important?
For other people, what the backpack is made from is important. After all, you want a backpack that’s durable and able to withstand the elements. Some minimalistic backpacks are made with cheap materials and fabric that could wear out quickly. High-end backpacks may cost more but you’ll be getting a bag that’s made with durable fabrics that won’t tear.
Make sure zippers are either made with hard plastic or non-corrosive metal. In quality backpacks, Nylon thread is used to make straps and clips are made with hard plastic. If you need the backpack for outdoor adventures, buy a minimalistic backpack you know will last.
What about Size and Weight?
Minimalistic backpacks come in all different sizes and weights. Ideally, you want a bag that’s big enough to fit all your essentials in and it must be light enough to walk long distances with. If you’re planning on traveling light then a small to medium bag will work for you.
On the other hand, if you’re going to be camping then you may want a bigger backpack with more compartments. Then you can fit all your hiking essentials such as maps, water bottles, snacks or first aid kits.
You may be wondering if there are minimalistic backpacks on the market that fit the above descriptions. Find what you’re looking for in our review section below. We’ve put together 15 of the best minimalistic backpacks for the light traveler. See if you can find one you like on our list.
Did you find a minimalistic backpack you liked in our reviews? If you’re an avid hiker you want a backpack that’s lightweight and comes with plenty of internal and external compartments to store your essential items. Find a backpack that’s comfortable to carry, especially if you’re going to walk long distances.
You don’t have to compromise on style with a practical backpack either. Some of the minimalistic backpacks on our list come in many different colors or designs that will complement your look and you can align it with your personal style.
So which minimalistic backpack will you pick for your outdoor adventures?
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Growing up in Colorado, Cory was introduced to the great outdoors at an early age. Camping, fishing, hiking, and outdoor survival are some of Cory’s favorite outdoor activities.